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Libya 13, Us 11, America 11, Obama 8, Chris Christie 8, United States 6, Benghazi 5, Florida 5, Virginia 5, Chuck Todd 4, Chuck 4, Rendell 4, Ralph Reed 4, Massachusetts 3, Washington 3, Ohio 3, Fbi 3, Citi 3, Pennsylvania 3, U.s. 3,
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  MSNBC    Meet the Press    News/Business. A moderator  
   interviews a leading public figure. (CC)  

    September 30, 2012
    11:00 - 12:00pm PDT  

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this morning on "meet the press," mitt romney needs a game-change, is the first presidential debate it? romney is behind in all of our battleground polls. the candidate presses for rebound. >> we do not want four more years of where we've been. a represent a very different path. president obama, meantime, tries to seize the moment as elly voting begins around the country. offering a closing argument. >> when i took office, we were losing nearly 800,000 jobs a month and we were mired in iraq, today i believe that as a nation we are moving forward again. >> this morning, the state of the race, a debate preview and a look at the issues that will
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sway undecided voters. with us, republican governor of new jersey, the keynoter at the gop convention, chris christie. and for the obama campaign. the architect of his 2008 run. now, white house senior adviser, david plum. finally insights and analysis if our political roundtable, plus the latest from the battleground map. joining us, founder of the faith and freedom coalition, ralph reed. former democratic governor of pennsylvania, ed rendell. anchor of bbc's world news america. and our chief white house correspondent, and political director, chuck todd. good sunday morning, with both sides in full preparation mode for wednesday's first presidential debate, the struggling romney campaign is recalibrating his message to better connect with voters on
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the economy and to attack the president on his handling of the latest foreign policy crisis, the evolving explanation of what exactly happened in libya. when our u.s. ambassador was killed more than two weeks ago on 9/11. we'll hear from a top obama adviser, david plueff. and the governor of new jersey, governor chris christie. let's look at the state of the race, the key battleground states, nine of them, we've done polling in all, here's a result in all nine, it's obama advantage across the board. look at ohio, plus seven. look at virginia, plus five. these are key states. is the race over? >> absolutely not. and that happened pretty quickly, right, david, you saw change in the polls happen quickly. i'm here to tell you this morning. it can happen quickly back the other way. i think the beginning of that is wednesday, when governor romney for the first time gets on the same stage as the president of the united states, people can
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make a direct comparison about them and their visions for the future and wednesday night is the restart of the campaign and i think you'll start to see the numbers move back in the other direction. >> how do you restart the campaign, governor, at the last moment where you can reach tens of millions of people. why isn't it too late to believe that the presidential debates, after you announce your running mate, after you have a convention, that you can restart with the presidential debates? >> absolutely. you're going to have tens of millions of people for the very first time, david, really tuning in and paying attention to this race. and also, for the first time you're going to have them be able to make a direct side-by-side comparison. remember, the end of the day, campaigns are about the candidates. they're going to be able to see these two candidates next to each other, debating each other and governor romney, i know is going to do a great job wednesday night of laying out his vision for america's future and making the contrast between he and the president of the united states. >> governor romney has been heavily criticized by his own
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side, conservative kritsics. the latest that got a lot of attention, charles krauthammer, go large, mitt. the argument was that he was not creating a clear contrast. he was not talking in detail about what a romney presidency would mean. how does he go large at this point? >> i think he has to lay out his plan and his vision. i like charles and the other folks who are, who are laying out critical columns right now. the fact of the matter is that in the end, this is going to be about governor romney over the next four or five weeks. laying that vision out for folks. and you fknow, folks like us obsess about stuff like this the general public in new jersey and elsewhere are just beginning to tune into this race. they'll start tuning in on wednesday night. when they do, governor romney will lay out his vision for a better and greater america, for greater opportunity for all of our citizens. i think that's when you're going to see this race start to tighten and then move in
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governor romney's direction. >> up until now, governor, he has failed to enumerate any of the deductions he would eliminate in order to make the math work on his deficit plan. and his tax plan. are we going to get those details in the course of the debate? >> well, you know, david, i wish you guys were just as tough on the president. the president says he's going to create a million new manufacturing jobs. it doesn't say how. he says he's going to reduce the long-term debt and deficit by $4 trillion, it doesn't say how he's going to do it. let's be fair here. governor romney has laid out a direction and vision for the direction of this country. he's not an accountant. eats not going to go line by line through the budget. but let's hold the president to the same standard and criticize him as well. because how is he going to create a million new manufacturing jobs, david? he hasn't told anybody the specifics of that. how is he going to reduce $4 trillion in debt? we're still waiting to hear whey thinks about simpson-bowles, which he commissioned. he's been the president and
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hasn't given us spiecifics, lets be fair. >> mitt romney is the defense lawyer in the courtroom, he's going to say the prosecution, president obama, hasn't made his case, his record isn't enough for re-election and i'll not give all the details of what i'll do, what a romney presidency would mean, make your choice based on the president, that's your plan? >> what is the plan is that the public will have plenty of detail and information to make a judgment on governor romney and what his plan is for the future. but let's look at what the president is saying as well. you're right, the president has had four years to lay this out and now a campaign. and the president just trying to run out the clock. he desperately wants to run out the clock with platitudes which sound nice and i give him that. the president is very good at that. but in the end, i think that both sides have to look at this campaign and say, what are we going to lay out over the next 36 days and that's i think what's really important. and i think governor romney will lay out some very important points over the next 36 days. that are going it make people
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believe once and for all that america can be great again. not just staggering along here economically as we've been doing. >> earlier this year, before he was the official nominee, you criticized mitt romney, you talked about his shortkomgtcome failure to connect with people as a candidate. that criticism has not gone away. and then had you his secretly recorded speech at a fundraiser we talked about the 47%. believing that they were victims. the obama campaign has made an ad that puts some pictures to those words. i want to play a portion of it and get you to respond. >> there are 47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. who are depend upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them. who believe that they're entitled to health care and to food, to housing. to, you name it. they will vote for this president no matter what. and so my job is not to worry about those people, i'll never fix that. that they should take personal
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responsibility and care for their lives. >> governor, how does he overcome that? how does anybody buy that he cares about 100% of the country after those remarks? >> first of all, david, let's be clear, where i am, i couldn't see the images, i could just hear the voiceover. so i can't comment specifically on the ad. but here's what i know governor romney believes, he believes that every american has to have skin in the game. he believes that every american is part of shared sacrifice in order to bring our country and its people to have another opportunity for greatness. that's what he's talking about. was that comment inartfully put? absolutely. but in the end, we don't want to judge people by one inartful comment. this is a president who said he had campaigned in all 57 states, i don't think we want to say that the president doesn't know there's actually 50 states in america, not 57. every once in a while in a campaign as a candidate i can tell you, you're going to say something that just comes out offer mouth the wrong way. but here's what he believes. he believes that every american
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should have the opportunity for greatness. he believes that every american should be part of a shared sacrifice that fix the problems that are besieging our country and everyone should have skin in the game. i believe that the american people will rise to the challenge and will elect mitt romney because he's the one articulating that challenge, not the happy talk that the president is giving us that things are just bumps in the road. the country knows we have big problems we're not confronting. and the president's happy talk for the next 36 days is not going to athenesthetize the american people. >> you agree that this was a thoughtful accounting of a government-dependant society in romney's view. you admit it's done political damage? >> i don't acknowledge that. what i say is if you look at the context of his statements all across this campaign. that what governor romney stands for is shared sacrifice for american people. what he stands for is everyone
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having skin in the game and working together to create opportunities for greatness for our children and grandchildren. and you know, if a we continue to emphasize this, then of course over the course of time, if that's all people hear, but that's not all they're going to hear, because guess what, on wednesday night, mitt romney is going to be standing on the same stage as the president of the united states and i am telling you, david, come thursday morning, the entire narrative of the race is going to change. >> let me ask you about nuts and bolts you say we're going to hear from governor romney. here's a portion of the speech thaw gave as a keynoter in tampa and i'll show it to you. >> we believe it's possible to forge bipartisan compromise and stand up for our conservative principles. >> you understand there's a great appetite for compromise in the country. when it comes to dealing with our debt. this is a nominee, in mitt romney, who talks about an extra tax cut, going beyond the extension of the bush tax cuts. he talks about raising defense spending. rejects a 10-1 ratio of spending
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cuts to tax increases. simpson-bowles, you mentioned him. they say the math simply doesn't add up in the romney plan and he won't tell us how he thinks it does. >> well, listen, the country is hungry for bipartisan compromise, david, i agree with you especially after the last four years of intense partisanship from this white house. and mitt romney is the only candidate in this race who has a record of showing he knows as an executive how to forge bipartisan compromise. as the governor of massachusetts, over 85% of his legislature was democrat, he made things happen. he will make things happen as president of the united states and will forge the right type of compromise to get this done and that's the way it's going to work. >> do you think this governor romney should be in a situation where he's actually prepared to deal with revenue, to raise revenue, to go against his party if it's part of a package that achieves compromise and the kind of reforms that are necessary, along the lines of simpson-bowles which you
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mentioned? >> what we did in new jersey is first you've got to convince people that you've done everything you need to do on the spending side before you start asking people for more money. the fact is, no one believes when you're adding $1.5 trillion in debt every year in the four years of this presidency that we've done everything we can do on the spending side. so the first thing that governor romney will have to do as president rom 234i, is deal with the spending side. you have to deal with that issue first. when he does, he'll have credibility with the american people to be able to solve any problems that are on his desk. >> that means raising revenue if that's the right things to do, raising taxes if it's necessary. >> he'll have credibility to forge bipartisan compromise. the fact of the matter is as he looks at these problems, he's going to look at them much differently than the president of the united states has looked at them, david. you're asking him about simpson-bowles, how about asking the man who commissioned simpson-bowles, how he feels
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about sim son-bowles. he won't answer the question. but he puts out a nice two-minute ad that says he's going to reduce debt by $4 trillion. but never tells us how. he's going to create a million manufacturing jobs, but never tells us how. the fact of the matter is, david, when i hear you talk about mitt romney, think you're talking about president obama. >> i want to end with this. as you know, political reviews are tough things. it was a tough review for you as the keynoter as the republican convention. this was politico, john harris and tim mack in reviewing your speech. the headline on it, christie deliver as primetime dud. write there's no mistaking what a successful keynote speech from chris christie would have looked like and sounded like. it would have been followed by waves of media commentary about how people had just heard the future of the republican party. judged by these standards, there's no mistaking what the new jersey governor delivered, a primetime belly-flop when
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notably failed to clear either of those two high bars. are you still the future of this party, do you believe? >> well, mitt romney is the future of this party, he's going to be elected president on november 6th and then from there he's going to lead our country back to greatness. if i took seriously the judgment of my speeches by jim vandehay and john harris, i would not be in this business for very long. >> governor chris christie. we're going to leave it there, thank you as always. >> great to be with you, david. let me turn to the president's senior adviser, david pleuff. he said come thursday morning, the entire narrative of this race is going to change after the debates. >> i think governor christie is just articulating what governor romney's campaign believes, they're going to change this race fundamentally. often talk about how this is going to be 1980 and reagan surged to a lead. they expect to come out of this with the race fundamentally changed. ha does that mean?
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if it's going to fundamentally change that means in seven to ten states like oh change and iowa change. >> governor romney has shown himself to be a very, very good debater through the years. so we understand that this is an important moment. we're just going to continue to make the case we have throughout the campaign, through the convention, to the american people -- governor romney, they've said he's practiced zingers and lines for months and months, we're sure he'll put on quite a show. that's the standard they've set, we want the race to fundamentally change after the debate and we'll be able to measure that. >> what have you told the president, hey, look, there's an incumbent trap here, don't fall into it. what have you told him he's got to do right here. >> which history suggests, 2004, challenger, being on the same stage. i think the president's view is
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he's not worried about zingers and lines. he's got time with the american people to explain to them his case for re-election. about what he wants to do on the economy. how we're going to build an economy focused on the middle class, that's what we've done through the campaign. day after day. just trying to explain to people where we've been, where we need to go, how it contrasts with our opponent. he thinks it's a clear choice for the middle class of this country. >> is this race over? >> absolutely not. >> you don't look like a guy who thinks they're going to come back and tie it in ohio? >> 3:00 i wasn't sleeping, because you worry about anything. first all there's benefit about going through this before. ups and downs, we know the news media is anxious to write the romney recovery and comeback story. we understand that first of all we're not going to win battleground states by 10, 12 points, this race is going to tighten. we've built the presidential campaign with the belief it's going to come down to a few votes in a few states, so this race is going to tighten. we've got the edge in a few battleground states and the election is happening right now. people started voting in iowa
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this week. they will in ohio next week. people requesting absentee ballots. we like what we're seeing in those numbers. we think we've got the numbers to win an election. but it's going to be exceedingly tough at the end. we expect it to tighten. our entire campaign is built on the premise, we've got 53% of the vote in 2008 under ideal circumstances, so we've always believed it's going to be closer than 2008 and so i expect that we're going to see in the weeks to come this race will tighten a little bit. >> i want to talk about issues, including a foreign policy crisis in libya and the fact that this administration has changed its tune when it comes to describing the raid on our compound on our embassy in libya that killed our ambassador, chris stevens and others on the ground. on september 16th, the u.n. ambassador for this administration came on this program and this is how she described whether or not this was a deliberate act, a terrorist attack. this is what sizen wright said at that time. >> let me tell you best information we have at present. first of all, there's an fbi investigation which is ongoing and we look to that
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investigation to give us the definitive word as to what transpired. but putting together the best information that we have available to us today, our current assessment is that what happened in benghazi was in fact initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in cairo. almost a copycat of the demonstrations against our facility in cairo. which were prompted of course by the video. >> there's a caveat there, she said the fbi was still investigating. but the thought was it was a spontaneous reaction. a couple of days before that the libyan president said al qaeda was behind the attack. and days later, the president's spokesman, jay carney says this, it is, i think self-evident that what happened in benghazi was a terrorist attack. well if it was self-evident. then why didn't the president come out and call this exactly what it was, an act of terror on the anniversary of 9/11? >> well this is an event of
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great interest obviously to the public, to the news media. information was being provided reeled time. obviously you're going to know more, two weeks after an event, than a week after an event. and as ambassador rice was, that was the information from the intelligence community. the same information provided for congress. the reason obviously we now have stipulated this is a terrorist attack. is that came from the intelligence agencies, as information has become available. as this investigation has continued. we're obviously making that information known. and i think the important thing, what the american people want to understand is are we taking the right steps to secure or personnel, our ambassador? >> there's also a question about whether you call this what it is on the day it happens. jay carney said it was self-evident that this was a terrorist attack. these are people who came to a demonstration with represents and security was an issue at the compound. why not call it what it was? >> i think now based on the recommendations and the investigation of the intelligence community, they made the decision to conclude that this was a terrorist
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attack. in the days after, that was not clear. and so you know, this is obviously, it was a very, very fast-moving period of time. as i said there's a great deal of interest in this. so we provided information that we received from the intelligence community, as we got it. the intelligence community put out a lengthy document on friday that explained the timeline here. and i think in the days after it wasn't clear this was a terrorist attack. as their investigation was, was conducted, and as they got more information, that's the demplgs th determination they made. >> the president has said that al qaeda has not had a chance to rebuild. that al qaeda has been defeated. there is an election on as we've been talking about. and the president's challenger said plain and simple, the president failed to level with the american people and call this a terrorist attack because you had to be concerned about another terrorist attack from al qaeda in the middle east after the president said that al qaeda had been defeated. >> that is preposterous and
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offensive to suggest that. this president's record on terrorism takes a back seat to no one. we obviously took out their number one lead anywhere osama bin laden. the leadership of al qaeda has been decimated just as the president promised in 2008. and by the way, in 2008 the president said he would go into pakistan to go after osama bin laden. governor romney said he wouldn't. governor romney said it was tragic that we entered the iraq war. one of the reasons that al qaeda strengthened during the last decade is our focus is too much in iraq. so we're happy to have this debate and will have it obviously. >> was this an intelligence failure? >> no, this was an event, a complex event. we're only talking a matter of weeks here. and so as information was arrived at, as determinations were made, that was shared with the american people and i think again the focus needs to be how do we make sure that our facilities and our ambassadors and our personnel is secure going forward and that's what the focus is on. >> the chairman of the homeland
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security committee has called for susan rice to resign, does the president have confidence in susan rice? >> absolutely. >> what about the broader point here, security is so bad in benghazi, that the fbi can't even go in and investigate. what about the fact that there are talk of military options to find ambassador steven's killers? what is america doing to work its will to change the trajectory in libya? >> well obviously i'm not going to speak for the fbi. but i think the key thing here, we live in a dangerous world with threats out there. and we're going to make sure that the appropriate steps are taken to enhance security, make sure our personnel and ambassadors are secure. >> is there a military option for the united states to lead the way in libya, to track down his killers? >> i'm not going to speak to that but the president was very clear the day after this event, this tragedy, that we are going to make sure that these killers are brought to justice. >> was it inappropriate for him to go to a fundraiser the day
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after this attack, in retrospect knowing it was a terrorist attack? inappropriate for him to engage in politics as usual? >> no, the president obviously is 24/7 engaged in the job of the presidency. he spent an enormous amount of time in these weeks in the aftermath of this terrible tragedy. so absolutely not. a president is on call 24/7 and that comes with the job. >> but apparently not during u.n. meetings, as "the new york post" highlighted here. the question about whether there was a snub, not meeting with the israeli leader. the president's on "the view." diss u.n. world leaders to gab with the gals on "the view." is he not performing all the critical role of the presidency, particularly with the foreign policy crisis, with so many questions about management of the middle east when you have a key united nations gathering not to meet with world leaders, including netanyahu at a time of so much concern over iran? >> this president has been in
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constant contact over four years with world leaders and has been in deep consultation with prime minister netanyahu. our administration has been in deep consultation with defense and intelligence agencies in israel. this president has been focused on strengthening alliances. he's built an unprecedented global effort in terms of sanctions against iran. so this president has led and i think the question, we have an election coming up. this president committed a few things to the american people in 2008. he would restore and rebuild alliances. he would end the war in iraq. he would find and make sure that bin laden was brought to justice. he's done all of those things. by the way, let's talk about governor romney's response during this. you know, in the hours as they attacks became known in libya and the assault on our embassy in egypt, mitt romney throws out some half-baked statement. i think that's one of the reasons -- >> the united states government
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had to disavow its own statement that came out of the embassy in cai cairo. that some might also call half-baked. >> presidential campaigns are a window and i think it raises just as the 47% comment did, questions in the shadow of the election. can i trust this person to be our commander-in-chief and our president. >> are you saying that mitt romney cannot be trusted by the american people? >> i think the american people will make that determination. i think his behavior during that incident was not just questioned by people like me, it was broadly questioned. >> one more economic point. the president in virginia beach, virginia on thursday talking about his approach to the economy and fixing the debt. this is what he said. >> during campaign season, you always hear a lot about patriotism. well you know what, it's time for a new economic patriotism. an economic patriotism rooted in the belief that growing our economy begins with a strong and
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thriving middle class. >> invoking patriotism. so raising taxes on wealthier americans, the president considers that patriotic. i assume he thinks sacrifice is patriotic. and yet he's not spending much time talking specifically about what he would do. like how he would cut the medicare program to make it solvent. beyond the cuts that he's talked about, and when sim son-bowles says he needs much more dramatic cuts. so framing this as patriotism, about taxing the wealthy. but not talking about where the american people should sacrifice? >> he was talking about specifically, bringing jobs back to america. rebuilding our manufacturing sector so we're sending products all around the world stamped with "made in the usa." and i think rebuilding the middle class, so that we are manufacturing things here, we're exporting things from here. and we're not rewarding those who ship jobs overseas. he's been incredibly specific. first of all we have a deficit plan, it's a $4 trillion plan.
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mitt romney doesn't have a deficit plan. he's got a plan to cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires. one of the things that will be interesting wednesday, if he'll finally explain hows had math adds up. he's got a $5 trillion tax cut and nour $2 trillion in defense spending that our defense leaders say they don't need if he's not going to add to the deficit, the middle class better watch out because they're going to pay the burden if he's elected president, because the whole is just too big. so if he says he's not going to burden the middle class, then he's going to blow a hole in the deficit. >> will we see president obama on "meet the press" before election day? >> there's 37 days left. so we'll stay in contact about it. coming up, we talk more about the first debate. what are the stakes for both campaigns. the round table will get into it founder of the faith and freedom coalition, ralph reed, former democratic pennsylvania governor, ed rendell. the bbc's catty kay and nbc's
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we're back, joining me anchor of bbc's news america. catty kay and our white house correspondent and political director, chuck todd. the founder and chairman of the faith and freedom coalition, ralph reed and the former democratic governor of pennsylvania, ed rendell. the big debate starting here on wednesday, chuck you're looking at the map and haas what romney campaign is looking at as they look to restart the campaign. as chris christie said. >> nine battleground states, here they are, one of them, we've moved into the lean obama category, but we've pulled in all of them the last couple of weeks, the president has leads ranging from two to eight points. what's interesting, we asked a few other question, including job approval rating, romney favorability and who wins on the economy. in three states the president had a job approval rating of 49 or above. romney's unfavorable rating was higher than his favorable rating
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and the president led omni on the economy. in three of those states, iowa, ohio and new hampshire. in one state did you have the president's job approval rate 49 or lower and did you have romney winning on the issue of the economy. that's north carolina. so if you look at it that way. and you go to our map to 270, what does that mean? and you put those four states into the respective categories? and look at this. the president, four short, 265, four short of the 27. romney a long way to go has to sweep the rest. we're looking at five left in the battleground, florida, virginia, wisconsin, colorado, nevada. this is where if romney does do what chris christie said he's going to do, the first places you're going to see it are in those five states left. >> here's the question, ralph reed, that's a lot of movement that has to take place to overcome where the campaign is and yet you heard chris christie say it on this program, we're going to have a new dynamic come thursday morning, the result of the first debate. >> well, look i think first of all, there's been a lot of up
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and down. there's been a lot of back and forth. but one thing that hasn't changed, david, is that today in the gallup poll, obama's job approval is under 50. and job approval is the single best predictor of an incumbent president's ballot performance. i think that's number one. i think number two, i wouldn't hang too much on a single poll. i mean remember on this day, in 2000, al gore was ahead of george w. bush by two points. bush was leading him by about three points going into the last weekend, it went all the way to the supreme court. at this point, in 1980, carter was leading reagan by four. there was a gallup with five days left that had him up by six. so, i'm not particularizing this to chuck. but the pollsters and the press don't decide who shows up. the people who decide who shows up are the people who are knocking on doors, ringing doorbells, making phone calls and i think there's going to be a lot of surprises. >> ed rendell, a lot of
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republicans, like ralph like to go back to the reagan race. the difference is i've discussed this week with some pollsters. he was 20 points up after his this convention. we've seen his ability to create wide swings, we haven't seen that in this race. we're in a much more polarized time in this election. >> look, we all know that the challenger gets a big bump in the first debate. there's no question. just appearing on the stage with the president, looking presidential and boy, mitt romney looks presidential. he's going to get a big bump. governor romney is a good debater. he won almost every debate in the republican primaries with the exception of think of south carolina. so i expect that there will be movement did there's no movement, and as chuck says, if the poll is two or three days after the debate. if those figures in the battleground states stay the same, it really is over. >> catty, this constant complaint among conservatives about romney. why is he losing?
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has been what the question is all along. and charles krauthammer i mentioned his column on friday before. here's a little more of the substance where he writes, it makes you think how far ahead romney would be if he were actually running a campaign. his unwillingness to go big, to go for the larger argument is simply astonishing. for six months he's been matching president obama small ball for small ball. i had only momentum came when he chose paul ryan and seemed ready to go on the big stuff, a restructured welfare state. yet he has since retreated to the small and safe. when you're behind, safe is fatal. even his counterpunching has gone miniature. >> this reminds me a little of the mccain campaign in 2008. in the days at the end where you felt like the campaign was kind of grasping at every new ornament that it found on the tree. it's being distragted. one week it seems to be libya. the next week it seems to be medicare. the next day it's whether the president has said something about bump in the road. and i think for voters, it's very confusing to have these
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very short-term responses. in the romney campaign. now of course every campaign has to have a rapid response. but usually that should augment what is the overall strategy. it shouldn't become the strategy. >> they're trying to win each news cycle rather than win the election. >> they've been chasing news cycles. when he was in virginia. he talked about the defense cuts, they're so, that's what direct mail is for. that's not for your candidate to do that. that's what surprised me a little bit. is that romney went and i think what the krauthammer critique is getting at. it's not that it's just small ball by the campaign. tactically you should do some of these things in certain states. but the candidate himself amplifying it and making it your entire message of that day just seemed a missed opportunity. >> i don't agree with krauthammer in this respect. i mean first of all, he's my favorite columnist in the world but in this particular sense, i think it underestimates just what a good candidate barack obama is and how ruthlessly disciplined and capable his campaign is.
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i mean remember this is a guy who was a state senator in illinois. four years before he beat like a drum, the best political machine the democratic party has seen since lbj, namely the clinton machine. as a challenger, he won by you know, 7%, 8%, he's got a lot of money. the power of incumbency. he's got air force one. the ability to set the message of the day from the white house. >> so obama is beating romney. romney is not beating himself. >> what i'm saying is any time a challenger has to clear the bar of credibility to sit behind that desk and make those decisions, historically, david, challengers close late. >> but is this -- >> it isn't just 1980. >> what about connecting to people like me. isn't that where romney is struggling? he's out there talking this week about tax cuts aren't going to be cut too fr far. he's going out there saying look i remember i insured everybody, all the children are insured in
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massachusetts. that's got to drive some conservatives crazy. that's what they don't like about the obama presidency. >> the actual thing he should have been doing that in june. as soon as the etch-a-sketch strategy, he should have followed it. as soon as he locked up the nomination he should have realized, the conservatives, the right wing is coming out to vote against president obama. he should have at that point started to drive his campaign toward the independents, toward suburban voters in philadelphia and cleveland and places like that. he didn't do that. he has not been. for those of us who served with him as governors, we're shocked that he's been such a poor candidate. because he was a good governor, he was a good governor, he did some very impressive things and he's made every mistake in the books, you can't just subscribe to the fact that president obama is a good candidate. he's a good candidate with a very tough economy. >> to some extent, those were problems that were hard to overcome. one of the ways he could humanize himself was to talk about his religion. that with a difficult with a
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conservative political base that was suspicious of mormonism. one of the main things of his record as governor was health care in massachusetts. >> he's talking about it now, he should have talked about it earlier. it's a big achievement. >> it was a risky strategy. >> let's put this in the context of the debates, chuck. were you surprised that christie has decided, do you think the romney campaign is pleased with him saying hey, first debate hits it out of the park thursday morning things are going to be totally different. >> thank you, chris christie for at least actually making the gaffe, the honest gaffe. the fact of the matter is that has to be what happens after the first debate. the narrative has to change. the polls have to move. romney has to clobber the president in the first debate. are they happy with it? i kind of think they needed the pep talk. i think the base needs a pep talk. they need to have confidence in their commercial. i think the idea that both sides playing this ridiculous expectations game. another thing, i i don't think either one of them are great
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one-on-one debaters. romney hasn't proven that he's good on the second pivot. the second time you challenge n on. and obama has a tendency to ramble. i think that's going to be interesting to watch. >> i think the reality is that when the challenger gets the opportunity, to stand on the same stage, feet from the president of the united states and go toe to toe and offer without a media filter, a devastating critique of his failed leadership over the last four years, it's going to make a difference in this race. >> one of the things, ralph, if i can interrupt. this is something that romney says he wants to do in the debates. he had a conversation with "good morning america" about that. let me play a portion and have you respond. >> i think he's going to say a lot of things that aren't accurate. i think that the challenge that i'll have in the debate is that the president tends to how shall i say it? say things that aren't true. and in attacking his opponents. >> give me an example of what he would want to attack.
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what the president has done, and how you think romney will handle it. >> well i think president obama has, and i want to be charitable here. has a casual relationship with the truth. he's very eloquent. he's extremely articulate. he's very bright. and anybody who thinks otherwise, who thinks that when you untether him from the teleprompter, that he doesn't bring his a game underestimatin. his words have very eloquent, flowery, tickle your ears, but none of it is true. he said unemployment would never go above 8% if we passed his stimulus plan. it's never gone below 8%. he said he would cut the deficit in half in his first term. he's doubled it and increased the national debt by 50%. he said he would change washington and put an end to the partisan rancor. washington is more polarized. and the senate which he controls has not passed a budget in three
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years and we're 92 days from a fiscal cliff which the cbo says is going to plummet us into a -- >> those might be broken promises, i think people would challenge you that those things are lies. we're going do get some of your questions, suggested questions for the debate. we're going to talk about the foreign policy debate that's going on in this campaign. richard engel, our chief foreign correspondent will join us from afghanistan. more after this. this country was built by working people. the economy needs manufacturing. machines, tools, people making stuff.
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debating styles, we want to go back and look at some of the debates and see with a we learned. mitt romney in florida on nbc, earlier this year giving you some sense of how he'll go after the president's record. watch. >> there are a lot of people in florida that are hurting. this president has failed miserably the people in florida. his plans for nasa? he has no plans for nasa. the space coast is struggling. this president has failed the people of florida. we to have a president who understands how to get an economy going again. he does not, he plays 90 rounds of gulf when you have 25 million people out of work. >> zinger, how much does he do that, versus rehabilitate his own image and try to be specific about what a romney presidency would mean. it's a lot to do? >> he's got to try to do all of the above. geese to the lay out i think why the office of the presidency and the country will be better off under him in four years' time than it has been. the american people know that they're hurting this he know the
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economy is in a bad state. what they need to know is how it's going to improve. now unfortunately for governor romney he goes into this debate with republican pollsters saying that the right track/wrong track numbers have changed dramatically in some of those swing state. a majority still think the country is on the wrong track, but it's a much smaller majority. >> interestingly, governor you've been thinking about questions, domestic policy, infrastructure, something you've worked a lot about. >> i would ask how are we going to fix our infrastructure, which is literally falling apart. and invest in it at the same time we've got to worry about the debt. i think it's a key question. and sim son-bowles had it right, we've got to continue to invest in america as we're getting rid of the deficit. >> there's so little appetite to do that. >> we've got to create the appetite. >> chuck, the president's style, we've got a clip in 2008 in one of the debates with senator mccain. what was notable is president
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obama playing it safe, trying to sit on a lead, watch this. >> we can have a debate back and forth about the merits of each other's campaigns, i suspect we won't agree tonight if we're going to focus on lifting wages that have declined over the last eight years and create jobs here in america then democrats, independents and republicans, we're going to have to be able to work together. and what is important is making sure that we disagree without being disagreeable. >> interestingly, a lot of these undecided voters watching this want to see washington work a little bit better, we could see more of that. >> i think they have more of a strategy of being aggressive and that the president is going to try to get under governor romney's skin. >> i think they believe that mitt romney is his own worst enemy. and they believe if they get him irritated that he, if you look at his past, ted kennedy debates, he's terrible at cut kut-aways when he's getting attacked. they believe it's easy to get under governor romney's skin. i expect a very aggressive
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president obama. not the one you saw there. >> i think romney going to get a b-12 shot. >> i think he'll be on his toes, not on his heels and i think romney understands it's no longer about him. it's about the country. and there are millions of people, david, who want to see a change who are hurting, who are without work, who can't find work, who have lost income. and he's there on that stage wednesday night, not on behalf of himself or on behalf of the political party. but on their behalf, to represent them and challenge this president. >> he's got to do more than that he's got to lay out a plan that the american people can say, well that might work. >> we know the first debate is about domestic policy. but foreign policy is looming large in this campaign. i want to turn to my colleague and our chief foreign current, richard engel live in kabul this morning where there is news beyond the libya crisis. richard i know as you've been covering the warn in afghanistan over the years. there are now 50-plus attacks, insider attacks that have killed american and other coalition
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forces. what's the latest you could tell us on the latest attack? >>. >> there's been another attack, it took place yesterday, but word of the insider attack is just coming to us today. in this attack, there was an american army checkpoint, a vehicle control point. and two afghan soldiers came up, they were speaking to the americans at this checkpoint and then suddenly, one of these afghan soldiers pulled out a weapon, opened fire. killed one american soldier. killed another american contractor and other americans in the area opened fire, killing at least three of the afghans. and this is a major problem, according to statistics. at least 20% of all u.s. combat deaths this year have, are a result of these insider attacks. and there have been orders issued to try to separate u.s. and afghan forces. but on the ground, that's really impossible because the whole
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mission is for u.s.-american troops to be working with afghan troops. so the idea of creating some sort of safe distance is imup impossib impossible. >> enter are flashpoints across the middle east. libya being the most prominent at the moment. while there's a political debate about how the administration handled that particular attack, what is the future there? what does america do at this point to work its will in the future of libya, including tracking down the killers who are behind the attack on the embassy? >> so far it appears that the attack on the consulate in benghazi has been something of a wake-up call for the libyan government and to a degree, the libyan people. the problem that libya has always had is after gadhafi fell, all of these militias that have been running around the country never disarmed. and some of these militias are affiliated with al qaeda and one of these militias decided to carry out an attack against the consulate. now there does seem to be some
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tentative moves by the government and also just by the people of benghazi, to disarm some of these militias to try to disband them. if that's successful, and libya can findly move on from its revolutionary phase and become a normal government, then i think libya can have a very positive future. small country, big country but small population. lots of oil it has a lot of things going for it it just needs to disarm and start behaving a little better. >> richard engel in afghanistan for us this morning. can you watch more of richard's reporting along with our nbc news team reporting from the region all week long. katty kay, a lot of questions about this debate, this administration's handling of what is still in part a chaotic middle east transitioning. >> on the issue of libbia i'm not sure who said what wednesday and when the intelligence came
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out. as david plouffe, it feels to me a short-term issue in terms of american voters. it means it's harder for the white house to keep focusing on what was a pretty disastrous response from the romney campaign, initially. so it kind of draws a line under that. but in terms of american leadership, more broadly in the middle east, the situation is that richard pointed out was very clear. there's a lot of confusion and it's not easy for american leadership. >> this debate will continue. we're simply out of time this morning. one twitter question was very interesting about whether simpson-bowles will be implemented. any part of it if congress will go along. before we go, two programming notes, watch my press pass conversation with nate silverman on our blog, there's a link on our website, nbcnews.com and monday night i'll be moderating a debate between two senate candidates,
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elizabeth warren will be facing off against the incumbent republican scott brown. it starts at 7:00 p.m. eastern. in you're in the area, you can watch it on your local nbc station. if not, you can watch it on c-span or via live stream online. a link on our website. that is all for today, we'll be back next week. if it's sunday, it's meet the press. maybe new buildings? what about updated equipment? they can help, but recent research shows... ...nothing transforms schools like investing in advanced teacher education. let's build a strong foundation. let's invest in our teachers so they can inspire our students. let's solve this.
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